EPA tags security plan
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has released its strategic plan for homeland security.
The plan is intended to support President George W. Bush’s national strategy for homeland security and the efforts undertaken by the proposed new Department of Homeland Security.
Since November, EPA had been examining its homeland security mission in the context of its broader mission to protect public health and safeguard the environment. The agency evaluated its role in protecting against and responding to terrorist attacks.
The agency’s plan identifies goals in four mission-critical areas. The plan is intended to serve as a blueprint for the agency’s senior leadership on how to enhance EPA’s ability to meet its homeland security responsibilities. The activities and initiatives in the plan represent an enhancement of EPA’s capabilities to detect, prepare for, prevent, respond to and recover from terrorist incidents.
The plan represents one of many steps the agency took following the terrorist attack on Sept. 11, 2001, to ensure the agency’s ability to fulfill its homeland security responsibilities. The new Department of Homeland Security or other agencies may eventually carry out some of the activities identified in the plan.
“As President Bush and [White House Director of Homeland Security] Governor Ridge have emphasized, we all have a role to play in homeland security,” said EPA Administrator Christie Whitman. “The EPA homeland security strategic plan is designed to ensure that this agency is doing what it should to meet its responsibilities as part of that effort.”
“I commend EPA for their work on their homeland security strategic plan and hope that it will serve as a model for other departments and agencies,” said Ridge. “As we continue our efforts to defend the homeland, it is important that we have well thought-out strategies so that our resources can be targeted to the most urgent priorities.”
The goals of the plan are separated into four mission areas: critical infrastructure protection; preparedness, response, and recovery; communication and information; and protection of EPA personnel and infrastructure. The strategic plan lays out goals, tactics and results in each of these areas.
Whitman has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Edgewood Chemical Biological Center designed to enhance EPA’s work with the center with respect to biological contaminants in water.
In coordination with the White House Office of Homeland Security, EPA is developing a national decontamination team, a cadre of specialized and experienced emergency responders, engineers and scientists dedicated to providing immediate technical decontamination expertise at the scene of a chemical, biological or radiological attack.
Over the past several years, various presidential decision directives and other orders have assigned EPA responsibility for some aspects of homeland security. These explicit responsibilities include being the lead federal agency charged with helping to protect the nation’s water infrastructure from terrorist attack, being the lead agency responsible for the cleanup of any biological or chemical attacks, and having responsibilities connected with certain radiological attacks.
More recently, President Bush’s national strategy for homeland security names EPA as the lead federal agency for reducing the vulnerability of the chemical industry and hazardous materials sector of our nation’s critical infrastructure.
The agency is undertaking a “lessons learned” study to determine what the agency had done well and what things needed to be done better in response to the Sept. 11 attacks.
Since Sept. 11, the EPA has taken steps to ensure its abilities to meet its homeland security responsibilities.
The agency is adding 75 response staff personnel to strengthen its ability to respond simultaneously to multiple incidents. The agency is providing advanced training and state-of-the-art equipment to those who would respond to any chemical, biological, or radiological incident. It is establishing a new environmental response team in Las Vegas to provide a quicker response time to any incidents that may happen in the western United States.
EPA has awarded nearly $50 million in grants to the nation’s largest drinking water facilities to assess vulnerabilities and make security improvements. It has upgraded its Cincinnati facility to handle “level-three” contaminants.
The agency plans to establish a homeland security research center in the Cincinnati labs to coordinate research in areas such as building decontamination, rapid risk assessment and drinking water protection.
EPA’s Homeland Security Goals
Critical Infrastructure Protection Goals
EPA will work with the states, tribes, drinking water and wastewater utilities (water utilities), and other partners to enhance the security of water and wastewater utilities.
EPA will work with the states, tribes, and other partners to enhance security in the chemical and oil industry.
EPA will work with other Federal agencies, the building industry, and other partners to help reduce the vulnerability of indoor environments in buildings to chemical, biological, and radiological (CBR) incidents.
EPA will help to ensure that critical environmental threat monitoring information and technologies are available to the private sector, Federal counterparts, and state and local government to assist in threat detection.
EPA will be an active participant in national security and homeland security efforts pertaining to food, transportation, and energy.
EPA will manage its Federal, civil, and criminal enforcement programs to meet our homeland security, counter-terrorism, and anti-terrorism responsibilities under Presidential Decision Directives (PDD) 39, 62, and 63 and environmental civil and criminal statutes.
Preparedness, Response, and Recovery Goals
EPA will be prepared to respond to and recover from a major terrorist incident anywhere in the country. To do this, the Agency will maintain trained personnel and effective communications, ensure practiced coordination and decision-making, and provide the best technical tools and technologies to address threats.
EPA will communicate to Federal, state, and local agencies the Agency’s roles, responsibilities, authorities, capabilities, and inter-dependencies under all applicable emergency plans. The Agency will also understand the roles, responsibilities, authorities capabilities, and inter-dependencies of its partners.
EPA will support and develop the preparedness of state, local, and tribal governments and private industry to respond to, recover from, and continue operations after a terrorist attack.
EPA will advance the state of the knowledge in the areas relevant to homeland security to provide first responders and decision-makers with tools and the scientific and technical understanding they need to manage existing or potential threats to homeland security.
Communication and Information Goals
EPA will use reliable environmental information from internal and external sources to ensure informed decision-making and appropriate response.
EPA will effectively disseminate timely, quality environmental information to all levels of government, industry, and the public, allowing them to make informed decisions about human health and the environment.
EPA will exchange information with the national security community to prevent, detect, and respond to terrorist threats or attacks.
EPA will continually and reliably communicate with employees and managers.
Protection of EPA Personnel and Infrastructure Goals
EPA will safeguard its employees.
EPA will ensure the continuation of the Agency’s essential functions and operations.
EPA will maintain a secure technology infrastructure capable of supporting lab data transport and analysis functions, 24×7 telecommunications to all EPA locations, and management of critical data and information.
EPA will ensure that the Agency’s physical structures and assets are secure and operational.